Clear weather for sun eclipse observation in west China
www.chinaview.cn 2008-08-01 19:47:55   Print

Photo taken at 7:15 pm (1115 GMT) on Aug. 1, 2008 shows the total solar eclipse at an observation station in Jinta County of Jiuquan City, northwest China's Gansu Province. The total solar eclipse, the first that can be viewed in China in the new century, occured on Friday. (Xinhua/Han Chuanhao) 
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    YIWU, Xinjiang, Aug. 1 (Xinhua) -- Eclipse tourists who swarmed to small towns in west China's Xinjiang and Gansu were happy to be greeted by bright sunshine on Friday.

    "The weather would be favorable for the eclipse observation," said Carolyn Ng, a program manager and science education specialist from NASA (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration of America).

    She led a 12-member crew to broadcast the solar eclipse live from Yiwu, a small pastoral county in Hami Prefecture 500 kilometers east of Urumqi, Xinjiang's capital.

    Wang Kemin, the Beijing Astronomical Observatories deputy director was also optimistic about the weather, estimating a 76-percent chance of success in seeing the eclipse from Yiwu on Friday evening.

    The sun eclipse, the first that can be viewed in China in the new century, will begin at 6:59 p.m. Beijing Time, and last for about two hours, although the total eclipse will be only two minutes.

    About 10,000 tourists have gathered at an observation square opened on Friday in Yiwu.

    The Solar Calendar Square covering 14,600 square meters is the largest observation square in the world, where nine pillars that surround the square will cast shadows indicating changes of the solar term, said Wang.

    "The observation preparations made by Yiwu County surprised me. When I came here to make a preparatory field study last year, it was a total wilderness in the area of the square," said Ng, the NASA program manager of the sun-earth connection education forum.

The combination photo shows the total solar eclipse occured in Jinta County of Jiuquan City, northwest China's Gansu Province, on Aug. 1, 2008. The total solar eclipse, the first that can be viewed in China in the new century, occured on Friday. (Xinhua/Han Chuanhao)

The combination photo shows the total solar eclipse occured in Jinta County of Jiuquan City, northwest China's Gansu Province, on Aug. 1, 2008. The total solar eclipse, the first that can be viewed in China in the new century, occured on Friday. (Xinhua/Han Chuanhao)
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    She said that the county has prepared sophisticated astronomical equipment and broadcasting facilities, which aided broadcasting crews.

    The China National Astronomical Observatories under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) has announced Hami in Xinjiang and Jiuquan in neighboring Gansu Province as the best places in China to observe the eclipse.

    Federico Avellan Borgmeyer, manager of travel agency Eclipse City in U.K. and Germany, said that the company had brought 500 foreign tourists, mainly from Europe, to the observation places in Yiwu, Xinjiang and Jiayuguan City in Gansu.

    "Most of the international visitors will travel along the Silk Road, after observing the sun eclipse," said Borgmeyer.

    Ancient towns in the west China region have become boisterous, after thousands of observers have seized their hold of open areas dotted along the Silk Road, the ancient trade route that traversed the present-day Shaanxi, Gansu provinces and Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

    According to astronomers here, the next solar eclipse to be seen in China will occur on July 22, 2009. The frequent eclipses could spark a fresh wave of astronomy travel in the country, observed Wu Guangjie, a senior scientist with the CAS.

    Cheng Zuo, a research fellow from the Purple Mountain Observatory based in east China's Jiangsu Province said that his research found that 55 years from now, another sun eclipse would be viewed from Yiwu, Xinjiang.

    Eclipses are scientifically interesting because they allow a rare glimpse of the cooler corona, glowing gases near the sun's surface and solar flares, which are normally not visible because of the brightness of the sun, he said.

Editor: Yao
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